24 September 2012

Amanuensis Monday - We Start in the Middle

I realized while reorganizing all my old documents that I'd been doing research for about six months before I started. That is to say that I had already started when I received a document that helped me really start my research. What do I mean? Well, read on and you'll discover this wonder piece I received from Tom Wersel back in early 1997. Tom is my mom's first cousin, the son of Roger Rowland Wersel and his wife Myrtle; Roger is the brother of Victor Wersel, my mom's dad. My mom suggested, when I started my research in 1996, that I give Tom a call since he grew up in Cincinnati, the root of my mom's family. Tom was so happy to hear from me, and was able to provide me with many clues. But he also provided me with copies of documents as well. He wasn't certain about the origins of the documents (i.e. who wrote them, or who'd owned them) but he thought that perhaps Nancy Baer Strubbe might know. When I spoke with Nancy the first time, she was unfamiliar with the documents and their origins. And, just to show how you never know what's going to happen in genealogy, I've included this document exactly as the copy looked that I received: with a page missing.

I did ask Tom if he had the missing page (page 2), and he said that he did not. The transcription follows: 

 Penn (1)
“Edward Penn of pure English extraction and a collateral branch of the family of which Wm. Penn the founder of Pennsylvania was the most distinguished in historic annals, came to Baltimore Md. He was a planter and largely identified with the growth + progress of the colony.”
His wife was a … Taylor (this seems an error perhaps as James Sargent’s wife was Nellie Taylor)
Benjamin Penn son of Edward born 1740 in Fredrick Co. Maryland; died 1834 in Clermont Co. O. Came to Clermont about 1810 with eleven children.
Mary Sargent (his wife) born 1755, Frederick Co. Md. Died 1817 in Clermont Co. Ohio.
They were married 1774 in Maryland.
Their  children.
I Joseph – Nov. 16.  – 1774 – unmarried
II Benjamin – Apr. 16 –  1776 = Anna Phillips
III Eleanor – Dec. 10 –  1777 = Richard Tucker
IV Nancy Ann – Apr. 12 – 1779 = Geo. Richards
V Elizabeth – Sept 15 – 1780 = Nathaniel Hines
VI Rachael – Mar 12 – 1782 = R. C. Lanham
VII Rebecca – Nov. 15 – 1783 = Benj. Thrasher
VIII Mary – May 7 – 1785 = John Richards


** Missing Page **

6.  John – married Caroline Rice
                                A Dr. in Tomah Wisconsin.
                (I have no record of his family, but here again
                Jennie may help you. – I know there were at least two daughters and one son)
                7.  Thompson – died in California
                8.  Ann – married John S. Lane
                She was born June 13 – 1818
                Died Feb. 1 – 1901 at Williamsburg O.
                Their children
                (one) Eugene born Oct. 1 1848
                Died June 1918
                Married Abbie Dexter – 1870
                (two) Rebecca Evelyn – born Dec. 9 1849
                Died Oct 4. 1865 at Delaware O.
                Edward Thompson – born Apr. 25 1855
                Married Maria L. Shearer June 27. 1889
                (four) Joseph Randolph – born Oct 10 1856
                Died Nov. 1929 California
9. Evaline married Henry Goodall
Their children
(one) Lula – mar. Cyrus Broadwell
(two) John – in St. Louis.
10. Caroline – married Joseph Van Dyke
Went to Illinois – had one son
(one) George – of whom we know nothing.
11. Randolph – married Laura Green
Their children
One – Walter – Julia Williams
Two – Virginia – Wallace Burch
Three – Randolph – Effie   ?
Four – Laura – Henry Wersel
Five – Charlie –
I have not enlarged upon these as you all know more than I
I have only sent notes on the immediate
Family of Mary Penn who married John Richards.
I will be glad to send all the data I have
On all the other children of Benj Penn and
Mary Sargent, if you care for it. There is quite a bit and rather interesting to any one with the genealogy bug.

Sargent  1

James Sargent was born at Snow Hill England near London.
Died Frederick Co. Maryland aged 107 yrs.
Nellie Taylor born England, married England
Came to Frederick Co. Md. 1745
Their Children.
1. Richard – Priscilla Austin
2. William = Sarah Aldridge
3. Snowden = Mary Hethman
4 James = Philena Pigman
5. John = Mary Fraser – Hester Camden
6. Elijah = Margaret Fraser
7. Mary = Benjamin Penn
8. Sarah = Hugh Larkin
9. Eleanor = Jonathan Fraser
10. Nancy = Samuel Phillips
The large Estate so often spoken of consisted
Of this tract of land (Snow Hill) belonging to Snowden Sargent brother of James. He was a
Bachelor and when he died his property was very valuable and increased until it was worth
Millions. The heirs in American never alluded to it and at the end of 67 yrs. It reverted to the Crown.
It is now in the city of London but still called Snow Hill.
I have notes on several families of these children beside that of Mary who married Benj
Penn. It is through this line that the connection
With the McNeal boys is traced
As I said of the Penn line – I will be glad
To send all I have if you are interested beyond
The immediate family line.


Hardly any thing is known of the Richards
Line. It was supposed to go into Maryland from Pennsylvania in 18th century.
Two Richards men (brothers most likely) married
Two Penn sisters.
John Richards married Nancy Ann Penn (You see my mistake there [arrows point to opposite spouses])
George Richards “ Mary Penn
From a great grand daughter of Nancy, I quote
The Richards who married Ann a daughter of
John and Nancy had eight uncles all with large
Families who scattered over U.S.A. and Canada
Some are still near Baltimore.
Hanson Richards a brother of Ann moved from
Felicity to Hillsboro Ohio during Civil War.
Perhaps Jennie can tell more of this family
Some of whom are still in Hillsboro
The husband of Mary Penn (John Richards)
Died when many of the children were young.
The mother raised her family on a farm between Bethel and Felicity Ohio. The house is still standing.

The Penn and Sargent lines have both been proved and descendants are eligible for the D.A.R. if interested.
I hope you can read all this. I find I do more scribbling than writing.
Just let me know if you want the whole "lay out" as I copied it from the notes of Colonel Frambes, and you shall have it.

Fast forward to 2012, 15 years after I first received the copy of this document with page two missing. I'm in the home of Mary Strubbe, the daughter of Nancy Baer Strubbe, who kindly offered to have me stay for a few days before the National Genealogical Society meeting began in May. Mary is now the keeper of most of the family documents, thank goodness! While going through the boxes, what do you think I found? That's right, I found the original of the document! I simply had to flip over the first page and there was the 'missing' information from the copies Tom had generously sent me:


IX Nackey – Sept. 2 – 1787 = 1st Joseph Pigman – 2nd – Teeters
X Rhoda – Aug 5 – 1789 = - Molen
XI Elijah – Dec. 27 – 1782 = Philena Walraven
XII Sophia – Jan 8 1795 = James Prather.

Benjamin Penn (1740) was in Revolutionary War.
The early home was in Arundel Co. Maryland on Halland (Holland) River – afterward in Frederick Co. on Monocassy River.

VIII. Mary Penn married 1805 John Richards in Md.
Their children

  1.       Lloyd – died aged 22 yrs.
  2.       Ellen – married Wm. Brown. And lived at Chilo. Clermont Co.
  3.       Ann – killed in swing – 7 yrs of age.
  4.       Eliza – married Lewis Pierce (a yankee school teacher
Who took her East where she soon died)
  5.       Warren – married ---- Goodwin
Their children (a twin sister of Warren died – infant)
1.       William married Lizzie Elsberry and their children
Are Marie wife of Dr. Owen Davidson of Bethel
Warren – of Cincinnati
Georgie – died
2.       Tom – a doctor
3.       Georgie – married Al Lane
4.       Belle – “ James Robinson
Jennie can perhaps tell more of these people, or Warren Richards

There's so much great information here, and I've referred back to this document many times for clues. Have you ever received a document like this, that helped you start in the middle?


  1. One document = priceless genealogical treasure!! And the serendipity is so heart-warming, isn't it. Thanks for posting all this information, I'm sure it will help others too.

    1. Thanks, Celia. This will forever be one of my favorite documents, and I constantly 'find' new information in it. ;-)

  2. A wonderful surprise at the end of this story! Your mom's cousin gives you big-big-big parts of family history in this long letter, and then at last you the genealogist uncover page 2! Lovely. Sometimes genealogy is as simple as turning the page over! I couldn't figure what relation Nancy Baer Strubbe to you, so that her daughter Mary is now keeper of the family documents?

    This letter is very much like the one that we were poring over this summer after the Reunion--the wife of my dear late cousin, and I. It's a serious and scrupulous effort to get the lineage down on paper. Shows that genealogy is hard-wired into people! I copied and stitched the letter this summer with Flip-Pal, then used it to "seed" one section of Family Tree Maker. Even the handwriting in your letter seems similar to that in our letter-- back from the days when people actually learned handwriting in school.

    Thank you for a good read, which I can really relate to!

    1. Marianne, thanks for pointing out I didn't explain Nancy's relationship here. I've spoken about her before, but for those just reading, here goes: Tom Wersel and Nancy Baer Strubbe were first cousins. Tom's Dad Roger and Nancy's mom Virginia were the children of Henry Wersel and Laura Richards Wersel, my great grand parents. Mary Strubbe is Nancy's daughter, my second cousin.

      I love handwriting and it's idiosyncrasies, and think it's a shame they're no longer teaching cursive writing in schools. Glad you enjoyed this post!!

  3. WOW! You are so blessed to have this information! I've never found a document filled with so much information as this, but I did have members of a small historical society to put me in touch with a gentleman whose great-grandfather was the plantation owner and Master who owned members of my family. Through him, I was able to obtain information about those particular ancestors as well as information and drawings about the plantation they worked on.

    Thank you for sharing this gift with us!

    1. Liv, your ancestry creates an entirely different set of challenges, and yet as you found yourself, there are still ways in which we can discover the 'where and wherefore' of our lineage. I'm happy for you that you were able to locate information; I have had a number of wonderful genealogical finds and know how blessed that makes me. I'm equally happy that you appreciated that I shared it; I have more that I'll be sharing in the near future, so stay tuned!!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog!